Four Southern African Presidents gather with children in Botswana to celebrate World Children’s Day

20 November 2021

Kasane, 20 November 2021 – The four Presidents of Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe marked this year’s World Children’s Day, at a unique cross-border event in the history of World Children’s Day celebrations, with over one-hundred children at the Kazungula Bridge in Kasane, Botswana.

The bridge, stretching nearly one km across the Zambezi River, connecting Botswana and Zambia, and the meeting point for the four nations, is one of several landmarks across Eastern and Southern Africa that was lit up blue in symbolic support of children around World Children’s Day, which falls on November 20 every year.

Ahead of the bridge turning blue, children participated in a discussion with their Presidents about the issues that matter most to them, including climate change, gender equality, disability and inclusion, and access to education.

Speaking about her role in the panel discussion, Yande Banda, 17, from Zambia, said, “It is crucial now more than ever that we accelerate girls’ access to gender transformative education and centre this in government policies and curriculums. This World Children's Day, we must recognise that investing in girls’ education is key to building back equal.”

“Children with disabilities should be listened to and should be included in decision making processes to enable them to have the same opportunity as any other child,” added Rivaldo Kavanga, 18, from Namibia, and one of four child panelists at the event.

The President of the Republic of Botswana, his Excellency, Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, is also a global leader for the Generation Unlimited initiative, which seeks by 2030 to have every child and young person in the ages of 10 to 24 in either quality education, training or gainful employment at the appropriate age.  President Masisi was joined by His Excellency Dr. Hage G. Geingob, President of the Republic of Namibia; His Excellency Hakainde Hichilema, President of the Republic of Zambia, and His Excellency Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe.

“Children and young people have potential to propel this region to great heights and we need to invest more resources to prepare them for the future. This event gives us an opportunity to listen to children, and we recognize the value of their experiences, views and concerns,” said  President Masisi. “It is not sufficient to just listen to children, but to take their views into consideration when we make decisions that affect them.”

The discussion between Presidents and the children was moderated by Mohamed M. Fall, UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa.

“Today provides an important opportunity to hear from children – to listen to their ideas and solutions – and to take them into account in the work UNICEF and governments are doing in these countries. Children have a different perspective to adults and can produce innovative solutions that can be implemented to address some of the region’s biggest problems,” said Fall, during the event. “As we recover from the pandemic, it’s more important than ever that adults listen to children’s ideas. Let’s remember that children are not the cause of the problems that the world is facing, but they pay a heavy price for them and therefore should be an essential part of the solutions to these shared challenges.”  

World Children’s Day activities across the region included child and youth-led Tedx talks in Eritrea, Rwanda and Zambia; turning famous landmarks blue in Madagascar, Zambia and the Victoria Falls Bridge in Zimbabwe; a Children’s Rights march in Namibia; child takeovers of local news outlets in Lesotho and Zambia; a high-level event in Madagascar attended by the country’s President Andry Rajoelina; while the First Lady of Kenya, Margaret Kenyatta, joined UNICEF and children at an event in Nairobi. In South Sudan, children were invited by UNICEF to write inspirational messages on the rights of children on its wall.

World Children’s Day is a global day of action for children, by children, marking the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) on 20 November 1989. Every day, UNICEF is working globally to reimagine a future for children where every child’s right to health, education and protection is upheld. The lighting of famous landmarks represents a commitment to child rights and reimagining a brighter future for every child, especially the most vulnerable. 

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Notes for editors:

Photos and b-roll of Kazungula Bridge lit up blue will be available Saturday evening. Photos and b-roll of activities across Eastern and Southern Africa available here: https://weshare.unicef.org/Folder/2AMZIF6JINPY

 

 

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Alicia Jones
Communication Specialist
UNICEF Eastern and Southern Africa
Tel: +254724322162

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For more information, to arrange interviews or for details on accessing the BTV live feed please contact: 

Alicia Jones, Communication Specialist, UNICEF Eastern and Southern Africa, Nairobi, +254724322162, aljones@unicef.org